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Archive for Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Leftist president takes office in Ecuador

January 16, 2007

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— Rafael Correa vowed to put Ecuador's poor ahead of foreign debt payments as he was sworn in as president Monday, raising a sword given to him by Venezuela's Hugo Chavez in a ceremony attended by members of the growing club of leftist Latin American leaders.

Correa, a charismatic political outsider who won a November runoff election, said he would work for an "economic revolution" in Ecuador that would emphasize the renegotiating of foreign debt, "paying only what we can after attending to the needs of the poor."

His remarks drew applause from several U.S. antagonists who attended the ceremony - Chavez, Bolivian President Evo Morales and Iran's hard-line leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad - as well as from Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega and more moderate left-leaning leaders from Brazil, Chile and Peru.

During the campaign last fall, Correa threatened to cut ties with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund and said he would not rule out a moratorium on foreign debt payments unless foreign bondholders agree to lower Ecuador's debt service by half.

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